05/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Steele: Arlen Specter Left GOP To "Further His Personal Political Interests"

Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele was speedy and harsh in his reaction to the news that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) would switch parties.

"Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not," he said. "Let's be honest -- Senator Specter didn't leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record. Republicans look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don't do it first."

In an interview with CNN, Steele added that Specter "flip[ped] the bird" at the GOP leadership. "For the senator to flip the bird back to Senator Cornyn and the Republican Senate Leadership, a team that stood by him, who went to the bat for him in 2004, to save his hide is not only disrespectful but down right rude," he said.

"I'm sure his mama didn't raise him this way," Steele added. "If Sen. Specter survives in the fall -- get ready to go to the mat, baby, because we're coming after you and taking you out."